Before she passed away last year, the wonderfully witty Nora Ephron – birthmother of iconic movies such as When Harry Met Sally – wrote a reflection on womanhood and aging called ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck’.
Here’s an excerpt from the book that many women can identify with…
“Sometimes I go out to lunch with my girlfriends – I got that far into the sentence and caught myself. I suppose I mean my women friends. We are no longer girls and have not been girls for forty years. Anyway, sometimes we go out to lunch and I look around the table and realise we’re all wearing turtleneck sweaters.
Sometimes, instead, we’re all wearing scarves, like Katherine Hepburn in On Golden Pond. Sometimes we’re all wearing mandarin collars and look like white ladies’ versions of the Joy Luck Club. It’s sort of funny and it’s sort of sad, because we’re not neurotic about age – none of us lies about how old she is, for instance, and none of us dresses in a way that’s inappropriate for our years. We all look good for our age. Except for our necks.
Oh, the necks. There are chicken necks. There are turkey gobbler necks. There are elephant necks. There are necks with wattles and necks with creases that are on the verge of becoming wattles. There are scrawny necks and fat necks, loose necks, crepey necks, banded necks, wrinkled necks, stringy necks, saggy necks, flabby necks, mottled necks. There are necks that are an amazing combination of all of the above. According to my dermatologist, the neck starts to go at forty-three, and that’s that…
The neck is a dead giveaway. Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t have to if it had a neck.”
Why does the neck seem to age us the fastest? Genetics, sun exposure and other environmental factors serve to accelerate cellular damage and collagen depletion in the fragile skin and its underlying structures. Combine that with the effects of gravity and reduced muscle tone as we mature, and there you have the ‘turkey neck’ phenomenon most of us will begin to develop from our late 40’s.
Having an aged neck does not bother some women. They’ll happily show them off with a scoop neck top and think it is crazy for a mature woman to be concerned about having a sun damaged, saggy or crepe-like neck. If that’s you – all power to you.
But it clearly bothered Nora. And reading her book, I wondered what stopped her from doing something about it. I have seen many women like Nora over the years; dynamic mature ladies who have spent their lives pursuing their dreams – only to conceal themselves under layers of clothes or makeup because their ageing anatomy betrays the youth they feel inside.
Developments in modern medicine have provided solutions – most of them quite simple and non-surgical – but a combination of fear and confusion over the plethora of treatments available, prevents them from addressing the parts of their bodies that make them “feel bad” about themselves.
At 30, your skin is tight, and the tissue underneath it is firm. By 60, the skin has thinned and become lax, and the structures that used to create firmness are depleted. Neck rejuvenation is all about recreating that tightness and firmness.
How do you treat sagging necks and other skin?
In researching the effects of ageing on this region of the body over the past decade, I have found a simple combination of four treatments – or even any one of these on their own – can achieve effective skin revision and a lifting, tightening effect in neck area.
Named after the famously-necked Egyptian queen, the ‘Nefertiti Lift’ uses anti wrinkle injections to make the neck muscles do the work, subtly lifting it back to where it used to be. The treatment takes 15 minutes and effects last three to six months.
‘Muscle banding’ is the term given to skin conditioning and firming treatments that help strengthen the underlying supporting structures in the neck region through stimulating collagen and connective tissues – while ‘Titan’ light based therapy is utilised to literally ‘tighten’ the skin in the neck and jaw area.
The above modalities affect structure and skin condition, but they don’t remove the aged, pigmented appearance of the skin’s surface in the neck region. Once the area is lifted and firmed, pulsed light ‘photo-rejuvenation’ is used to reduce redness, capillaries and improve skin condition.
Occasionally, excessive skin laxity may require a surgical approach to create effective results.
Preventing sagging skin
Genetics and lifestyle have a significant impact on how we age. It is never too late to begin preventative measures by reducing the damaging effects of smoking, sun exposure and excessive alcohol – and boosting your complexion with a diet rich in antioxidants and omega 3’s – available through good diet and healthy ageing nutritional supplements.
One of the great things about maturing in years should be that we have less to worry about – a great sense of confidence and comfortability in our own skin. But often it makes us look older than we feel. Feeling ‘bad’ about any part of our bodies is an unnecessary, negative reflection; with today’s traditional and western medicine, access to healthy lifestyle and cosmetic treatments, there’s almost always a solution to restore confidence and pride in one’s appearance.